Plans to jail boat people arriving in New Zealand called inhumane
Human rights groups have hit out at a proposal being made by New Zealand’s Immigration Minister to detain groups arriving in the country illegally by boat. Nathan Guy is currently attempting to gather support for an Immigration Amendment Bill which would mean asylum seekers can be detained for up to six months.
Bill Frelick, refugee programme director for Human Rights Watch, called the bill a flawed scare tactic. He said that Guy was wrong to believe that such legislation would sent a message to mass arrival groups that they would not be tolerated. He added that the introduction of such a law would also punish those who have a legitimate right to apply for refugee status.
The bill was presented to a select committee in August, but Guy has not yet managed to persuade enough people to vote it through. The Greens and Labour have already said that such legislation would contravene human rights and that it is unnecessary because so few immigrants coming to New Zealand by boat make it through the treacherous waters surrounding the country.
Peter Dunne, leader of United Future, said the proposal was inhumane and that he was unlikely to support it. Guy has now turned to NZ First and the Maori Party for support. Leaders of both parties are being pressured by Amnesty International to discard the bill.
A protest video featuring celebrities including actor Oscar Knightley, comedian Jeremy Elwood and singer Dave Dobbyn has been produced attacking the bill and explaining that New Zealand is ‘better than that’.
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